• Kyodo

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Senior officials of Japan and the United States affirmed on Tuesday the importance of peace and stability over the Taiwan Strait where mainland China is increasing pressure on the self-ruled island.

The meeting in Tokyo between Japan's Vice Foreign Minister Takeo Mori and U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman came ahead of a trilateral meeting the following day that will include their South Korean counterpart Choi Jong-kun, with security issues concerning China and North Korea expected to be high on the agenda.

Mori and Sherman vowed to ensure trilateral coordination with South Korea in ridding North Korea of nuclear weapons, the Japanese Foreign Ministry said.

U.S. President Joe Biden's administration has attached importance to strengthening cooperation with Washington's two closest allies in Asia, whose bilateral relations have sunk to the lowest level in decades over wartime labor and compensation issues.

Mori also met separately with Choi on Tuesday, during which Mori was expected to bring up bilateral issues concerning wartime history, the ministry said.

South Korea said on Monday that President Moon Jae-in will scrap his plan to visit Tokyo for the opening of the Tokyo Olympics. Moon and Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga were planning to hold their first face-to-face summit during the trip.

Mori and Sherman also expressed grave concern about China's alleged human rights abuses against the Muslim Uyghur minority in the Xinjiang autonomous region and the crackdown on Hong Kong.

At the bilateral meeting, the two senior diplomats pledged to work closely on climate change and global health issues in the face of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, according to the ministry.

Takeo Akiba (left), Japan's new national security adviser, and Takeo Mori, vice foreign minister, held talks with their respective U.S. counterparts on Tuesday. | KYODO
Takeo Akiba (left), Japan’s new national security adviser, and Takeo Mori, vice foreign minister, held talks with their respective U.S. counterparts on Tuesday. | KYODO

Also on Tuesday, national security adviser Takeo Akiba and his U.S. counterpart Jake Sullivan agreed during their telephone talks to closely coordinate to strengthen the bilateral alliance, the Cabinet Secretariat said.

In his first talks with a foreign counterpart since becoming head of the National Security Secretariat earlier this month, Akiba and U.S. national security adviser Sullivan also confirmed they will work together on critical challenges in economic security facing the two allies.

In the 25-minute phone talks, Akiba and Sullivan exchanged views on efforts to realize a free and open Indo-Pacific promoted by both countries and discussed regional situations including over China and North Korea, the Cabinet Secretariat said.

They confirmed continued cooperation toward promptly resolving the issue of past abductions of Japanese nationals by North Korea, it said.

Akiba, a former vice foreign minister and close aide to Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga and his predecessor Shinzo Abe, assumed the top security post on July 7, replacing Shigeru Kitamura, a former National Police Agency official.

The secretariat assists the National Security Council, which was launched by Abe in 2013 as the command base for Japan's foreign and security policies.

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